For the second year in a row, Paper Republic is working with the Beijing Interational Book Fair to organize a small literary festival around the fair itself. In Beijing, August 20–28. Click here for this year's program.
Between July of 2015 and July of 2016, Paper Republic publishing one free-to-read short translation on the web every week. Click here to see the full list.
New cycle of censorship has begun under President Xi Jinping
The incentives to self-censor are obvious. A writer whose creativity finds expression within (or just outside) the bounds of what is permissible can live very comfortably. Yan believes that Chinese literature pays a price for self-censorship, however, in terms of diminished international influence.
“The reason Chinese literature is paid attention to is because people pay attention to Chinese political restrictions. That doesn’t mean the literature is good,” he [Yan Lianke] says.
From the Newman Prize homepage:
While the deliberations were tough, after a process of positive elimination voting Wang Anyi emerged as the winner. Wang Anyi’s nominator, Dai Jinhua (戴锦华, Peking University), writes in her nomination statement: “Over the past thirty or more years, Wang Anyi has continuously transformed her writing and altered her literary directions to produce a spectacular array of works, through which she has created a sort of reality of Chinese-language literature, a city in literature, or even a nation in literature.”
Wang Anyi's story "Dark Alley" (translated by Canaan Morse) was the 47th release of Read Paper Republic Season 1.
By David Haysom, September 26 '16, 4:08p.m.
English PEN has this program called "PEN Presents", where they provide translators with funding to promote books they want to translate, and this year they're accepting applications from East and South-East Asia. From their announcement
PEN Presents aims to help publishers to discover – and publish – the most exciting books from around the world, whilst supporting emerging translators in their development as advocates for international literature. Each year the initiative presents six exciting books by contemporary authors, recommended by literary translators, which have not yet been acquired for English-language publication. Each round of PEN Presents focusses on a different region of the world.
They're working with the Asia Literary Review for this year's program – see this link for application instructions. The deadline is December 5, 2016.
By Eric Abrahamsen, September 23 '16, 12:31a.m.
A, B and C-class Foreign Workers: How Will Literary Translators Be Classified?
Han Han, Public Intellectual: Similarities with Lu Xün?
NEW RESOURCE: Chinese books for young readers - from Helen Wang, Anna Gustafsson Chen, Minjie Chen - launched this week!
First five posts:
(1) Chinese books for young readers
(2) Gerelchimeg Blackcrane
(3) Chinese children's literature and the UK National Curriculum
(4) Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
(5) The Reason for Being Late
By Helen Wang, September 16 '16, 7:47a.m.
Air China Inflight Mag: Bilingual Format Lets Racism Out of the Bag
Curtin University’s China Australia Writing Centre (CAWC)
Curtin University’s China Australia Writing Centre (CAWC) is a research and creative partnership between Curtin University and Shanghai’s Fudan University.
It will host its inaugural literary event this Saturday, when Creative Conversations presents four sessions involving high-profile Australian and Chinese participants working across a range of disciplines from law and journalism to poetry and fiction.
Xu Xi - interview in the LA Review of Books
Bugs Bunny, the Novel, and Transnationalism - Ysabelle Cheung interviews Xu Xi in the LA Review of Books
China Literary Exports: English Isn't the Only Fish in the Sea!
Book Review: Han Han's "The Problem with Me"
An Arabic edition of the magazine Chinese Literature has been launched during the Beijing International Book Fair and will be distributed for free starting October as a periodical magazine issued every three months in partnership with the Egyptian cultural newspaper Al-Kahera.
The magazine, which is already published in 10 languages and comprises fiction, poetry and art, will be published under the name Beacons of the Silk Road, and will introduce contemporary Chinese literature to Arabic readers.
I'm wondering: Is this the newest edition of Pathlight?
By Bruce Humes, September 2 '16, 6:59p.m.
Nutshell, Ian McEwan’s new novel, is narrated by a sentient foetus who listens in on the Hamlet inspired machinations of his mother’s plot to murder his father. In a Guardian interview, McEwan says he is not aware of any story yet written from the perspective of an unborn child:
“And yet it seemed obvious once I started it.” The idea came to him one day from nowhere, while he was daydreaming. “Suddenly there appeared before me the opening sentence of the novel, which I don’t think I’ve changed, apart from adding ‘So’ in front of it: ‘So, here I am upside down in a woman.’ I thought, who on Earth would say such a thing? Then I immediately thought it would be a lovely rhetorical challenge to write a novel from the point of view of a foetus. The idea struck me as so silly that I just couldn’t resist it.”
Well, 李洱 Li Er, for one, has beaten him to it, with his story 《你在哪》 (translated by Joshua Dyer as “Where Are You?” in the Summer 2015 issue of Pathlight). Here’s how it begins:
Where are you, she asks.
I’ve been here all along. She must be completely blind now. I reach out to touch her. I feel her chest and notice her heartbeat is irregular, sometimes stopping altogether. She lets me touch her ears. I find a thick, sticky pus leaking out.
By David Haysom, August 28 '16, 8:33a.m.
Reading and books have played a huge role in my life since 1974, when I was 10 years old and the Cultural Revolution was still (underway). That year, through an “underground channel,” I got access to Western classics for the first time. Five years later, the Chinese door was wide open and all kinds of books were flooding in. The influence of existentialism and modernist literature began to exert (itself) on the younger generation.
—interview with 薛忆沩 Xue Yiwei in the Montreal Gazette.
Ken Liu's translation of the Xue Yiwei story "The Taxi Driver" appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of Pathlight. "God's Chosen Photographer", translated by Roddy Flagg, will appear in a forthcoming issue.
Shenzheners, a collection of short stories by Xue Yiwei (translated by Darryl Sterk) is out next month.
By David Haysom, August 27 '16, 5:48a.m.
So we're about halfway through our program of literary events
surrounding the 2016 Beijing International Book Fair, which so far has
been great fun. Last year, the first year Paper Republic did these
"Literary Salons", we were too exhausted to post about this at all,
let alone halfway through the program, so I suppose this is progress!
To me, it's clear what "progress" consists of: more hands on deck.
Last year it was just Dongmei and me; this year we've added Min Jie as
our third PR employee, and have a team of three awesome interns,
Lirong, Yutong, and Mingjun. The whole thing is much more under
control, and it's possible to actually enjoy ourselves!
I'll post a few pictures below, but first a few memorable moments:
- Putting Alejandro Zambra, the Chilean cultural attaché, and the
Chilean ambassador on a stage which, several weeks after we booked
it, was turned into part of the children's book zone. The three of
them discussed Chilean history and literature against a Finding
Nemo backdrop, while the audience sat on colorful little squishy
Tic-Tac stools. Zambra is a good sport.
- A cocktail party at the Beijing Bookworm. The Bookworm of course
runs their international literary festival every March, a much
larger and more long-running event than what we're doing here. But
the two things are complimentary in spirit, and I'm really glad we
were able to work together for the fun part of this week.
- Acting as impromptu bodyguard for Nobel laureate Svetlana
Alexievich yesterday. Most audience members at the fairground were
well-behaved, but a handful had obviously come because – hell or
high water – they were going to get a Nobel laureate's signature,
even if they had to tackle her. I wasn't expecting tussling to be a
part of our literary festival, but hey, it was exciting.
By Eric Abrahamsen, August 25 '16, 11:30p.m.
Image from 凤凰文化.
This week marks fifty years since 老舍 Lao She committed suicide by throwing himself into Taiping lake after he was attacked by Red Guards. 凤凰文化 (the Culture branch of Phoenix New Media) has put together a retrospective featuring video interviews with figures such as 葛献挺 Ge Xianting, another member of the Beijing Literary Federation who was present that day, and assorted opinion pieces:
Fifty years on, the people personally involved in that famous “Red August” are now aging or have passed away. If the truth exists only in their memories, then that generation’s departure signifies the loss of a piece of history. Lao She’s death becomes a diluted legend.
In 1984, Orwell wrote: “He who controls the past, controls the future.” If it is not too late, we hope to look back on history, and reawaken memories. On the August 23rd of fifty years ago, what violence and humiliation was Lao She subjected to, to make him step into the icy lake in the midnight hours of the 24th?
By David Haysom, August 25 '16, 5:19a.m.
Translator Ken Liu and author 郝景芳 Hao Jingfang – image from Hao Jingfang's Weibo.
At Uncanny Magazine:
"Folding Beijing", the story that won the award (beating out Stephen King in the process...)
An interview with Hao Jingfang.
"I Want to Write a History of Inequality" – a guest post by Hao Jingfang (written after being shortlisted for the Hugo).
All three of the above were translated by Ken Liu, whose forthcoming collection, Invisible Planets, which will also feature the story.
A video of the moment the award was announced, plus the acceptance speeches of Hao Jingfang (in which she expresses her disappointment that she won't be able to attend George R. R. Martin's Hugo Losers party) and Ken Liu.
On The Economist:
Keeping Up With the Wangs: an analysis of the inequality Hao Jingfang explores in her story (published after it appeared on the Hugo shortlist).
By David Haysom, August 22 '16, 12:16p.m.
Translated from 他们四个人的最大公约数是“残酷” by 唐山 at 北京青年报.
赵志明 Zhao Zhiming, 孙一圣
Sun Yisheng, 于一爽
Yu Yishuang, 双雪涛
Shuang Xuetao – what do they have in common?
By David Haysom, August 21 '16, 7:06a.m.
A First: Chinese Poetry Rendered in Kiswahili
From Bloomberg Businessweek (Chinese edition):
The literary journal Harvest has an online “youth” edition. At the end of April they announced on their official Weibo account that literary enthusiasts could now submit writing through an app called “Hangju” (行距). Furthermore, editors from Harvest would be using the app to offer guidance to writers. In its first ten days online, Hangju received over 600 submissions, the majority of which were passed on to Harvest. Author Wang Ruohan (汪若菡), recipient of the 2011 People’s Literature Novella Award, was amongst those who submitted work. He said the chance to get input from literary editors was his main reason for using the platform. “Writing is like navigating an ocean,” he says, especially for short story writers, who can lose their bearings completely when embarking on a novel. “I got to 60,000 characters in my first full-length novel before realising something had gone wrong, and there was nothing for it but to chuck it in the trash.” There is no more pressing issue when attempting to write than finding the guidance of a reliable editor.
By David Haysom, August 10 '16, 1:25a.m.
I'm in shock! For one, the official Beijing Int'l Book Fair has already uploaded at least a partial list of events open to the public, albeit in Chinese only. In the past, that generally happened on the first day of the fair, or later.
But even more eye-popping is the list of speakers for this (no doubt) bilingual forum on translation:
埃里克·亚布拉罕森（中英文学译者、Paper Republic 创始人）(Eric Abrahamsen)
报名链接：http://form.mikecrm.com/iWsUgu (never mind that this link doesn't work . . .)
For a classic Kubin interview re: his views on contemporary Chinese lit, see this one in English published just two days ago: No innovative culture without contact
By Bruce Humes, August 9 '16, 9:31p.m.
July-August 2016: Altaic Storytelling Newsbriefs
Interview with Ayonga, author of Manba Rasang, a soon-to-be-translated thriller revolving around a mysterious medical canon dating from the Mongol-ruled Yuan Dynasty . . . the man behind China’s Museum of Ethnic Literature . . . Junma Literary Awards for Ethnic Minority Writers . . . news on a bevy of Turkish novels appearing in Chinese, including Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s 20th-century classic, The Time Regulation Institute, recently released as 时间调校研究所 . . .
Translation Quote of the Week
It was as if I’d gone out to buy a silk party dress and come home with a set of nylon overalls.
(The writer describing how she felt reading a different translation of a book she thought she had always loved)
Junma Literary Awards: Winners of National Award for Writing by non-Han Authors
24 winners in these categories: novels, short stories, reportage, poetry, essays and translation
26th National Book Trading Expo
The 26th National Book Trading Expo, was held recently in Baotou, Inner Mongolia.
Turning Points: Women Writers from Taiwan
In the latest issue of Words Without Borders:
“Literary Heroes: Women Writers from Taiwan”, by Jeremy Tiang
From “The March of Time” by Su Wei-chen, tr. Jeremy Tiang
From “Notes of a Crocodile” by Qiu Miaojin, tr. Bonnie Huie
From “Qibla” by Shen Wang-ting, tr Jeremy Tiang
From “The Ringing of the Rain has a Forgiving Grace” by Ye Mimi, tr. Steve Bradbury
“We Deliver More than we Promise” by Hsia Yu, tr. Steve Bradbury
“Wedding in Autumn” by Shih Chiung-Yu, tr Darryl Sterk
Or, if you prefer your news in English:
Taiwan’s President Apologizes to Aborigines for Centuries of Injustice
August is Women in Translation Month – and we're recommending some excellent women writing in Chinese.
From June 2015 to June 2016, the Read Paper Republic team published a short story/essay/poem translated from Chinese, one a week for a year. For last year’s #WITmonth we published four pieces written by women and translated by women (nos 7-10). The rest of the time, we didn’t pay too much attention to the gender of the writer. So it’s cheering to see that over the entire year, of the 53 pieces we published, 22 were written by women. They are all available online – free to view. Thank you to all our authors and translators.
Also , in May 2016, we drew up a list for The Literary Hub, of
10 CHINESE WOMEN WHOSE WRITING SHOULD BE TRANSLATED: WRITING FROM MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG, AND TAIWAN. Read it here:
By Nicky Harman, August 1 '16, 11:37a.m.
Sci-fi: the end of day is coming, just not to China
Feature by Isaac Stone Fish in Foreign Policy -- Why apocalyptic fiction and film haven’t caught on in the Middle Kingdom.
"Part of the reason Chinese writers haven’t written fiction about the destruction of their country involves religion: China does not follow the Judeo-Christian tradition that foretells the apocalypse and rapture. 'The Christian tradition is linear. There is an end, a judgment day,' said Mingwei Song, an expert on Chinese literature at Wellesley College. 'Whereas in China, there is a circle, a change of dynasty, but not a change of the world.'”
“Le Dernier Quartier de Lune”: French version of Chi Zijian’s ode to Evenki to launch in September
The French rendition of Chi Zijian’s 《额尔古纳河右岸》will join several previously published foreign language editions including Dutch (Het laatste kwartier van de maan); English (Last Quarter of the Moon); Italian (Ultimo quarto di Luna); Japanese (アルグン川の右岸) , and Spanish (A la orilla derecha del Río Argún).
Hong Kong writer forecasts renewed popularity of martial arts novels amid political discord
Recent social conflict and political tension in Hong Kong have created a perfect environment for the comeback of once-popular Chinese martial arts literature, said Tommy Sun Sai-shing, president of Knightly World Press and himself an established writer.
Why Translations of Premodern Chinese Poetry Are Having a Moment Right Now
The stakes of poetry translation from Chinese are indeed the stakes both of how we understand translation and how we in the English-speaking world understand China. Translation is neither simply a matter for scholars to judge, nor is it something that can be left to the unaccountable imaginings of revelers in poetry — any more than China should be something only specialists or tourists alone can pronounce upon. Rather, bringing expertise and excitement together, translation can help expand our conceptions of poetry and of China, demanding more from ourselves, and more from it. The contentiousness may remain, but it can motivate us to create new and better representations.
Top 10 highest earning Chinese authors
The tenth of its kind, the ranking is based on the authors' copyright royalties from book sales from December 2014 to December 2015. A total of 70 authors are on the list.
- Yang Zhi（杨治）Pen name: Jiang Nan（江南）
- Leon Image（雷欧幻像）(pen name)
- Zheng Yuanjie（郑渊洁）
- Yang Hongying（杨红缨）
- Yan Bing（鄢冰）Pen name: Da Bing（大冰）
- Xu Lei（徐磊）Pen name: Nanpai Sanshu（南派三叔）
- Zhang Jiajia（张嘉佳）
- Jiang Shengnan（蒋胜男）
- Shen Shixi（沈石溪）
- Chen Sixuan（陈思玄）Pen name: Xuan Se（玄色）
The "Inspector Chen" poems: a look at the man and his verse - by Qiu Xiaolong
As fans of the “Inspector Chen” novels know, the Shanghai detective not only excels at solving crimes and navigating the complexities of politically tricky situations but also writes verse. Now, thanks to Qiu Xiaolong, a poet and translator (as well as a writer of mysteries), a collection of Chen Cao’s poems has become available. Here we provide an introduction to the volume penned Qiu, who unquestionably knows Chen and his poetry better than any other person on earth does—or ever could—due to the crucial role he has played in chronicling the versifying sleuth’s cases and writings. — Jeff Wasserstrom
THE JIA PINGWA PROJECT: SAMPLE TRANSLATIONS OF FOUR NOVELS
Nick Stember: "So, in March I met Jia Pingwa 贾平凹. Even if you’re familiar with Chinese literature in translation, you might not have heard of Jia, despite his towering presence in contemporary Chinese literature."
"Iron Girls to Leftover Women: What Next for Chinese Women?" is a blog I've just written for Foyles, a mega-bookshop in London (and elsewhere) with an impressive website including regular blogs. I approached them because I knew they'd ordered some copies of Xu Xiaobin (徐小斌)'s Crystal Wedding and I wanted to do some promotion for the book. But it's hard to interest the general reader in a (virtually) unknown author and book, so I decided to pick up on the piece Xu Xiaobin wrote recently for PEN Atlas, "A sea of red flags" and write about women. Xinran (薛欣然) has written a lot about Chinese women too, and was happy to be included...and so I ended up with two nice interviews. I have no idea if it will shift more books by both these authors off the shelves, but it felt like a worthwhile thing to do......
By Nicky Harman, June 25 '16, 3:47a.m.